Behind the Music

soundcity-poster-pYou know for a “writing” blog, or at least the blog of a “writer” of some kind, I really don’t talk about writing much. Certainly not writing advice, mainly because I don’t have any; I figure there are enough blowhards out there driving frustrated writers down conflicting paths to misery. But even my own writing I don’t talk about much. So here’s a little update. I haven’t been doing much fiction writing at all lately, though I have a couple story ideas clattering around, and some notes taken here and there, and I have a pretty solid novel idea with a few notes here and there as well. However, the bulk of what I’ve been working on is freelance nonfiction writing. Have some irons in the fire, some stuff that will see the light of day in a few months, things like that. I’ve written the occasional piece for the Missoula Independent as well. I mention it because there is a piece out today that is about something I really dig — the music documentary Sound City produced and directed by Dave Grohl.

I hope you check out my review in the Indy today. Here’s a little excerpt:

As a guy who has made music with friends for many, many hours in recording studios, the film hits me where my heart is when it comes to the creative process and how music should be recorded. Forget digital cutting and pasting. Forget perfect performances. I want bands live in a room, making music together, playing the songs as a unit to capture living, breathing, human performances. Other musicians and music geeks of similar values—those graybeards and kids digging through vinyl bins at record stores—will no doubt agree.

That snippet really sums it for me, in many ways. It was tough — really tough — to squeeze what I think of this documentary down to 700 words, but it came out okay. I feel like music, and my various pursuits in it, really defined the first 35 years or so of my life, and, once the realities of those failed efforts set in, left me flailing for the last ten or so, bitter and jaded and cynical and surly. Sometimes it’s hard to even listen to music, because so much of it is an ache akin to visiting places where you spent time with a former love, or with someone who has moved or passed away. Writing is a creative pursuit that I’ve been trying to plug the holes with, and it has worked to varying degrees, but I’m not there yet. It’s hard to imagine that writing will ever provide the kind of euphoria that fragmented moments on stage or in the studio have, but I’m trying. It’s a totally different discipline; I’ve found nothing in writing that comes close to that moment of connection that happens when you are playing with people you’ve labored hours in rehearsal with, and everything is clicking, and there are people in the audience connecting at the same time. It can be truly transcendent. I think Sound City captures what that can be like, what it has been like. It’s a fantastic achievement.

As for writing, we’ll see. I enjoy it, and I realize I’ve tried to make it something it’s not. So I’m working to discover exactly what it is. I may ultimately throw in the towel for something else . . . but not today.


Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

2 thoughts on “Behind the Music”

  1. I could’ve done without the Paul McCartney appearance (meh), but otherwise this movie ROCKED. So informative and like you said – trying to nail down a feeling or a collaboration that was only possible in that room with that equipment.
    Way cool review on the Indy – didn’t realize you were doing pieces for them. Congrats!

    1. Thanks. I’ve done a few lately, I just don’t talk about it all that much. This one was near and dear to me, so I figured it was worth a mention. And I agree 100% about McCartney. I’d maybe buy a couple songs off the soundtrack, but not the full album.

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